Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


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Last night's public safety mayoral forum featured citizen questions from six leaders with the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, who were picked to represent the views of New Yorkers. After the program, we asked each questioner whether the candidates addressed their concerns and whether one of the mayoral hopefuls stood out on the crowded stage.

Blanche Romey

Member, Duncan Genns Senior Center, Brooklyn

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QUESTION:  New York is a much safer city than it was more than 20 years ago. In the last two years, I’ve worked with local precinct commanders to shut down two drug dens on my block. But there are still parts of the city that remain unsafe. My question is will you drive crime lower than it is  today and what would be your three most important strategies?

Did the candidates answer your question? Well I give them a “fair” because we’re going to keep our eyes on them. This is our city and not theirs. They could do better.

Which candidate gave the best answer? Quinn. I like her. She understands what we are going through and that the main thing is sitting down with police to stop crime in our communities.

Brandon Gibson

Member, Hope Christian Center, Brooklyn

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QUESTION: I have a question for all of you. Just out of a show of hands, how many of you have been stopped and frisked? Well I have, at least 20 times. What is your best estimate for how important stop, question and frisk has been in reducing crime?

Did the candidates answer your question? They’re politicians so they emotionalize things to get a response out of the crowd. But I appreciate those candidates who got to the core of the issue.

Which candidate answered your question best? Honestly I liked Joe Lhota and I liked Bill Thompson. I liked Lhota because his answer was measured and there was no pandering. Although Thompson emotionalized his answer, he also raised a good point in talking about his son.

David Haberer

Pastor, Church For All Nations, Manhattan

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QUESTION: There’s no question that the city is safer now than when Commissioner Kelly came in. My question is simple. If you were elected mayor, would you keep Commissioner Kelly, yes or no?

Did the candidates answer your question? Some people did well. De Blasio had a point — do you teach an old dog new tricks? When do you bring in someone new to shake things up a bit? This question about an inspector general is a real question. This is New York City, it’s a mayor-centric town. That person has to be responsible for all things that happen to the city.

Which candidate answered your question best? I don’t know if there’s a best answer. At this point, it’s not an either/or, it’s you revealed your position, so how are you going to translate that into good government?

Kadeem Mullings

Sophomore, Andrew Jackson High School, Queens

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QUESTION: Two months ago, I was heading from school to a church program when I was mugged. Too many students are victims, and that has to stop. My question is will you commit to providing more safe corridors for students, and, if more control is needed, how will you do it?

Did the candidates answer your question? They did, I thought. John Liu answered my question and so did Bill Thompson.

Which candidate answered your question best? Thompson. When he had referred to history, I felt he knows how hard it is.

Maribel Baez

Tenant, Melrose Houses, Bronx

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QUESTION: These days crime is often indoors. It’s in the hallways, elevators and stairwells of NYCHA where 600,000 New Yorkers live. I’m tired of risking my safety and life when I go home. In your first year as mayor, will you make safety in NYCHA a priority and what are two or three specific things you will do?

Did the candidates answer your question? A little, not much. When one of them becomes mayor, we’ll see what happens.

Which candidate answered your question best? Thompson. He came straight out. But, then again, all of them said the same thing. I’m looking for someone that’s going to bring down crime in our buildings.

Richard Gibbs

Former police officer, Queens

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QUESTION: The NYPD is one of the largest purchasers of guns. As mayor, will you lead the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies to push firearm manufacturers to end sales to dealers whose guns are frequently used in crimes in New York City?

Did the candidates answer your question? They all want to do something about it, although nobody gave me an exact plan. There’ll be more interviews and open discussions like this, so if we don’t see that in their rhetoric then there’s a problem somewhere.

Which candidate answered your question best? They all basically commented that they would do something. I didn’t hear something specific, but they all agreed that it’s a concern.